The Hell of the West lives up to all the expectations

The Hell of the West is about a lot more than just winning. Goondiwindi's Melissa Gladman epitomises the triathlon spirit.

The Hell of the West is about a lot more than just winning. Goondiwindi's Melissa Gladman epitomises the triathlon spirit.

Organisers of the 29th annual "Barambah Organics Hell of the West" have branded the 2020 event, "Hell of Wet," as the community welcomed much needed rain to the region over the weekend.

Just under 700 competitors crossed the finish line in various events throughout the notoriously tough "Festival of Hell". On Saturday, 386 entrants participated in the family friendly Super Saturday events which consisted of a 5 and 10km charity run, an enticer triathlon for intermediate athletes and a mini-race for kids aged 6-11years. On Sunday, the gloves were off as 244 individual competitors and 67 team entrants set a cracking pace for the "Barambah Organics Hell of the West." Organisers and athletes embraced the opportunity to swap the 2km swim in the MaiIntyre River for a 3km run down Goondiwindi's main street. It was followed by an 80km bike ride and 20km run.The river swim had to be cancelld due to a blue-green alage alert.

Women's winner Kerry Morris.

Women's winner Kerry Morris.

"Despite the drought and challenging conditions in the lead up to this year's event, we're proud of the great weekend we delivered for entrants," Race Director, Tim Richards said. "This year competitors embraced a different set of challenges competing in rain on Saturday and still, sluggish and humid temperatures for the Hell of the West on Sunday."

Taking out the individual men's title for Hell of the West was rookie professional triathlete Simon Hearn from the Sunshine Coast in 3hrs14minutes and 35seconds. For the individual women's event, it was Brisbane local girl Kerry Morris taking the title in 3:47:01'. Returning 2019 title winner, Queensland's, Sam Betten took second place whilst New Zealand athlete, Trent Thorpe came third. A special mention must go to Allan Pitman, 71, - a veteran of the Hell of the West who participated in his 27th event, completing the course in 5:51:59. Across the weekend 300 volunteers worked alongside the local ambulance committee (LAC), police authorities, SES, security, main road authorities and Goondiwindi Regional Council to ensure the success and safety of the event.

Men's winner, Simon Hearn.

Men's winner, Simon Hearn.

The influx of visitors to the region provided a much-needed boost to accommodation providers, restaurants, pubs and local retailers. Goondiwindi Regional Council Mayor, Cr Graeme Scheu said it was great to see so many visitors to the region for the memorable event. "Organisers are to be commended on their ability to adapt under difficult circumstances and it's testament to the professionalism of their team."

Award-winning dairy, Barambah Organics teamed up with organisers to help bring together this year's exciting line-up of events. "We love and support the event for so many reasons. It's great for the community, it's great for tourism and it encourages and promotes an active and healthy lifestyle, which is what we are all about," Barambah Organics owner, Jane Campbell said.

Next year, the Hell of the West will celebrate its 30th anniversary. Internationally, the event is a recognised partner of The Spirit Tri Series, an emerging race series developed in Europe to support long-standing, iconic independent races around the world.

"We'd like to thank all our sponsors, competitors, industry associations, volunteers, our local council and Tourism Events Queensland for their continued support and making the festival such a great weekend. Next year may just be one of our biggest and best yet - you just never know what you're going to get!" Mr Richards said. For more information or to enter the 2020 Festival of Hell, visit https://www.hellofthewest.com